The Soil Bleeds Black
Starting as a vision to compose experimental and mystical music, the brother Mark and Michael Riddick formed The Soil Bleeds Black in 1992.  After a couple of years they were joined by Eugenia Wallace to form a trio and decided to focus entirely on Medieval folkloric music.  They went on to release a number of cassettes, vynil records and CDs as well as appearing on various compilations.  They have had releases on popular labels such as Cruel Moon International, Draenor Productions, World Serpent and currently release their works on their own label The Fossil Dungeon.

With this long and dynamic history, this group has reached fans worldwide.  It was several years ago that I first becamse familiar with this group, mainly on compilation appearances over the years.  Their sound immediately intrigued me as I am a big fan of all the folkloric elements of the Dark Ages and Medieval life.  Mainly because of the romanticly portrayed elements in some of the better movies, artwork and other sources that have influences many in the Gothic genres and subcultures.  The music portrayed by this group has matured over the years from slightly synthetic instruments portraying the medieval sounds, to the current use of more authentic period instruments.  Vocals, lyrics and instruments all lend a wonderful element of authenticity to each album released as the imagination is put into motion and you're taken back in time to Medieval Europe to experience life in various aspects presented in the music.

With this impressive history and continued hard work both with their label and music, I think we still have a lot to look forward to.  You can hear selected tracks on both radio shows here on Gothic Paradise.

Mirror of the Middle Ages - Review

Like each of the albums released by this group, the music takes the listener on a mystical journey through time to the sometimes romanticized soundscapes of the Middle Ages and the sometimes harsh-reality of the same period.  The title of this album describes it very well as it is packed with various authentic-sounding elements from the lyrics, vocals and the instruments presented.

With the exception of the final track which I'll touch on later, this album is full of period instruments and authentic sounds.  Kicking it all off is the Medieval song about the plague, "Ring Around the Rosey".  This song comes from the nursery rhyme about the plague.  Infected people would often get small circular soars (ring around the rosey) and would smell bad and would carry flowers to cover it up (pocket full of poseys).  People that died would then be burned to stop further spread (ashes, ashes we all fall down).  This rhyme is sung over and over with slowly pounding beats, sinister whispers and flute all resounding the tale.  This is just one element of life in the Middle Ages.  Others could possibly include gathering together for parties and town celebrations as revealed in "Pastime with Good Company" and "Jubilation of Earthly Delights".

There are many popular renditions of period songs, including the spiritual "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel" often sung around Christmas time.  This track includes the angelic guest vocals and organ of Ann Sue Riddick.  Most tracks' vocals are presented by Eugenia with the male vocals mostly as background.  However, most notably in the popular version of the lamentation "Palestinalied", the male vocals are the dominant factor.

I really enjoy this music for the feelings of authenticity they bring when I listen.  I feel transported right into a small village or courtyard, possibly into a small celebration or mourning as the inevitible passes.  The combination of dark gothic elements and folk are brought out so well with each flute solo, bombastic percussion and various vocals.

Most notably different on this album from previous works is the excellent "21st Century Mix" of "Palestinalied".  This track has been covered by many artists in the Gothic sub-genres, including Qntal and Unto Ashes just that I know of.  And I'm sure there are probably a few others out there.  On this album there are two versions, with the original sporting more of an authentic sound, while this one really gets you moving and feel like going out on the dance floor and really dancing.  The modern beats and synths added are a nice addition to the already well-performed period instruments.  This is a great addition and finale to this album.

Those that are already familiar with this group will love this album.  Those that enjoy groups like Dead Can Dance, Qntal, Helium Vola, Estampie and Dargaard should really enjoy this album and others by this group.

Rating: 4.5/5

Label: Fossil Dungeon